United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
ROBERT W. ZIEGER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. LITKOVITZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and
§ 1383(c)(3) for judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying
plaintiffs applications for disability insurance benefits
(DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). This matter is
before the Court on plaintiffs Statement of Errors (Doc. 10),
the Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc. 16), and
plaintiffs reply memorandum (Doc. 17).
filed his applications for DIB and SSI in January 2014
alleging disability since November 19, 2013, due to chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), major joint disorder of
the knee, affective disorder, and borderline intellectual
functioning. After initial administrative denials of his
claim, plaintiff was afforded a de novo hearing
before administrative law judge (ALJ) Peter Jamison on April
8, 2016. On July 21, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying
plaintiffs DIB and SSI applications. Plaintiffs request for
review by the Appeals Council was denied, making the decision
of the ALJ the final administrative decision of the
Legal Framework for Disability Determinations
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must suffer from
a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A) (DIB),
1382c(a)(3)(A) (SSI). The impairment must render the claimant
unable to engage in the work previously performed or in any
other substantial gainful employment that exists in the
national economy. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2),
promulgated by the Commissioner establish a five-step
sequential evaluation process for disability determinations:
1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the
claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment - i.e.,
an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical
or mental ability to do basic work activities - the claimant
is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or
equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the
regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or
her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the
claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an
adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.
Robbers v. Comm 'r of Soc. Sec, 582 F.3d 647,
652 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i) -(v), 404.1520(b)-(g)). The claimant has
the burden of proof at the first four steps of the sequential
evaluation process. Id; Wilson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec, 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004). Once the
claimant establishes a prima facie case by showing an
inability to perform the relevant previous employment, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant
can perform other substantial gainful employment and that
such employment exists in the national economy.
Robbers, 582 F.3d at 652; Harmon v. Apfel,
168 F.3d 289, 291 (6th Cir. 1999).
The Administrative Law Judge's Findings
applied the sequential evaluation process and made the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. The [plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
2. The [plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since November 19, 2013, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major joint
disorder of the knee, an affective disorder, and borderline
intellectual functioning (20 CFR 404 1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The [plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 404 1526 416.920(d),
416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the [AU]
finds that the [plaintiff] has the residual functional
capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except: occasionally lift/carry 20
pounds and frequently lift/carry 10 pounds; push/pull as much
as can lift/carry; sit for 6 hours, walk for 6 hours, and
stand for 6 hours; operate foot controls with the right lower
extremity occasionally; occasionally climb ramps and stairs,
but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; never kneel,
crouch, or crawl; avoid all exposure to unprotected heights
and hazardous moving mechanical parts; avoid concentrated
exposure to dust, odors, fumes, and pulmonary irritants;
avoid all exposure to humidity and wetness, extreme cold, and
vibration; limited to performing simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks, but not at a production rate pace (e.g.,
assembly line work); limited to simple work-related
decisions; limited to tolerating few changes in a routine
work setting defined as no more than ordinary and routine
changes in the work setting and duties.
6. The [plaintiff] is unable to perform past relevant work
(20 CFR 404 1565 and 416.965).
7. The [plaintiff] was born [in] ... 1965 and was 48 years
old, which is defined as "younger individual age
18-49," on the alleged disability onset date. The
[plaintiff] subsequently changed age category to
"closely approaching advanced age" as of October
16, 2015, which was the day ...